Heart-related conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and heart disease have claimed many lives and rendered many miserable. A quick way to improve body conditions is with supplementation. So what are some vitamins for heart health?
Vitamins for Heart Health
Most people are becoming aware of the necessary lifestyle changes to improve heart health, such as a healthy diet. However, some have minimal knowledge on supplementing their diet to make it even more effective.
This article takes you through the best heart health vitamins. These help keep your blood pressure within normal and lower your risk of developing heart disease and other cardiovascular complications.
1. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is the most crucial vitamin for the heart.
It’s a cardioprotective vitamin that offers antioxidant benefits to protect the heart in different ways, including:
Preventing inflammation of the coronary artery:
As an antioxidant, vitamin E destroys the harmful free radicals that form when low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol combines with oxygen in the process of oxidation.
Oxidized LDL causes inflammation and damages the inner linings of the coronary artery (the main artery supplying the heart), leading to the formation of plaques.
Over time, plaque accumulation can lead to partial or total obstruction of the coronary artery. This cuts off blood supply which translates to minimal or no oxygen supply to the heart muscles, leading to ischemia and coronary artery disease.
Lowering blood pressure:
The plaques that form due to LDL oxidation narrow other arteries supplying different parts of the body. This results in an increase in blood pressure to force-pump blood to the rest of the body.
Thinning the blood, thus preventing clots:
Vitamin E is a natural blood thinner. This helps prevent clot formation that may travel to the heart, causing a heart attack or stroke.
A Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study (CHAOS) found a 50 percent reduction in heart attacks in individuals who took a vitamin E supplement.
However, don’t exceed the recommended daily intake, especially if taking a supplement, because excess vitamin E can interfere with vitamin K functions and cause bleeding.
Reducing the risk of arterial fibrillation:
According to a study published in the American Heart Association Journal, low serum vitamin E levels are associated with arterial fibrillation, a heart condition that causes an irregular and often rapid heartbeat.
Though not life-threatening to a healthy individual, arterial fibrillation may facilitate complications such as ischemic stroke in those with atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, or in someone with a valve problem.
What is the best type of vitamin E?
The best type of vitamin E to consume is tocotrienols as opposed to tocopherols because it works faster and has more powerful antioxidant properties.
There are different types of tocotrienols and tocopherols; however, the most important part of the vitamin E complex should involve tocotrienols.
Vitamin E is present in wheat and wheat flour; however, the vitamin E in wheat flour and its products is always oxidized due to exposure to oxygen and heat.
Other best sources of vitamin E include almonds, beet greens, sunflower seeds, collard greens, spinach, avocado, squash, and kiwifruit.
2. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is an essential water-soluble vitamin that the body cannot produce and has to be obtained through food or supplement.
It promotes heart health by decreasing high homocysteine levels that have been linked to heart problems, including atherosclerosis and heart disease.
This vitamin also helps the body absorb magnesium, a mineral that regulates blood pressure, maintains a regular heart rhythm, and prevents your arteries from hardening.
Deficiencies are less common but can still occur.
One study found that low levels of B6 in the blood had a doubled risk of developing heart disease compared to individuals with normal vitamin B6 levels.
Best sources include wheat germ, bananas, oats, carrots, sweet potatoes, pistachios, and avocados.
3. Folate (vitamin B9) and B12
Just like vitamin B6, vitamins B9 and B12 work to lower high homocysteine levels, an amino acid known to cause heart disease when in excessive amounts.
According to research, combining vitamin B6 with folate offers more efficient results.
In a systemic review, combining vitamin B6 and folate reduced the risk for coronary heart disease in the general population.
The best sources of folate include dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and legumes.
B12 can be obtained as a supplement or through nutritional yeast or sauerkraut though in minimal amounts.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another vitamin that may lower the risk of heart disease and improve heart health.
In one meta-analysis of studies done over ten years, a daily intake of 700mg of vitamin C had a reduced risk of heart disease by 25 percent compared to those who did not take the supplement.
In another study, consuming 500mg of vitamin C daily decreased blood triglycerides by 20.1 mg/dl and bad cholesterol (LDL) by 7.9 mg/dl.
Vitamin C also boosts the absorption of iron in the body. Iron is essential for the formation of hemoglobin which carries oxygen throughout the body and the heart muscles.
The best plant sources for vitamin C include citrus fruits such as grapefruit and oranges, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peppers, kale, spinach, and kiwifruit.
5. Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is an essential nutrient for blood coagulation and has been shown to prevent calcium deposition within the arteries.
In one observational study, people with a high intake of vitamin k2 had a 52 percent reduced risk of developing arterial calcification and a 57 percent reduced risk of dying from heart disease.
Vitamin K 2 is available in fermented foods like sauerkraut. Other plant foods only contain vitamin K1, which has not shown any heart beneficial benefits as much as k2.
Niacin or vitamin B3 is known to lower cholesterol, the leading risk factor for cardiovascular conditions including high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.
The best plant sources include nuts, seeds, legumes, and soy products.
Takeaway on heart vitamins:
Having a healthy heart is paramount to leading a healthy and comfortable life.
While diet is a significant element in promoting heart health, targeting specific heart health nutrients such as vitamins will help strengthen the heart even more.
Some heart health vitamins to consume include vitamins B3, B6, B9, and B12, vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamin K2.
Though these vitamins exist as supplements, plant sources are also available and most recommended.
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